The New Jersey Senate this afternoon affirmed the nomination of Michael Noriega to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Noriega is slated to succeed Honorable Barry Albin, for the term prescribed by law, ending seven years from the date of appointment.
The vote was 37-0.
“Michael Noriega will be an excellent addition to the Supreme Court,” said Senate President Nick Scutari (D-22). “He is a skilled attorney who is widely respected within the legal community. Mr. Noriega has extensive experience representing clients in the courtroom as a private attorney and has served with distinction as a public defender. He also possesses the human qualities of compassion and understanding that can be important in the Court’s decisions.”
A partner at the law firm of Bramnick, Rodriguez, Grabas, Arnold, and Mangan, Noriega also serves as the President-elect of the Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of New Jersey. In this, he follows in the footsteps of Justice Albin, who served as President of that association just before he was appointed to the Supreme Court.
The senate’s support makes Noriega the first former public defender to sit on our state’s Supreme Court.
“In this he would follow in the footsteps of a different Justice – Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who became the first former public defender to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court last year.
“Folks, that experience matters. Public defenders see firsthand how the law impacts ordinary people. A public defender does not get to choose their clients. More often than not, they represent individuals from our most marginalized communities in their greatest moment of need.
“Regardless of their own personal beliefs or opinions, public defenders represent their clients to the best of their ability. That is their sworn obligation as officers of the court.
“That is an obligation we hold sacred because in America every defendant is guaranteed legal representation regardless of their ability to pay.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, powerful or powerless. Whether you’re struggling to make ends meet or the former President of the United States, it’s your Constitutional right to get a fair shot in court.
“Michael understands that because he has lived it. During his five years as a public defender in Essex County, he represented thousands of clients in all manner of cases, and tried roughly 25 jury trials.”
In a statement following Noriega’s passage out of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, the governor said, “I commend the Senate Judiciary Committee for unanimously approving the nomination of Michael Noriega to the New Jersey Supreme Court. I am especially pleased that his nomination received bipartisan support and I thank Senate President Nick Scutari and Judiciary Committee Chair Brian Stack for their leadership and partnership. I look forward to Michael’s confirmation by the full Senate.”